February 18, 2021
Minnesota’s Xcel Energy could save consumers money by accelerating its plans to build 3.5 GW of utility-scale PV, and allowing for 2.6 GW of distributed solar and 1.3 GW of distributed storage, according to a resource plan developed by Vibrant Clean Energy (VCE) and filed with state regulators by the Citizens Utility Board of Minnesota.
The so-called “Consumers Plan” ultimately reaches the same 3.5 GW of utility-scale solar by 2035 that Xcel proposed. However, it would start building that capacity now, rather than waiting until 2025 as in Xcel’s plan.
Distributed PV installations would reach 2.6 GW by 2035 in the Consumers Plan, paired with 1.4 GW of seven-hour distributed storage. Xcel’s plan would add 0.6 GW of distributed solar during the same timeframe, including 15 MW per year from 2026 onward. The Consumers Plan also includes 5.7 GW of wind power, more than double the amount in Xcel’s plan.
The difference in approach partly reflects VCE’s modeling, which co-optimized generation and distribution investments. The amounts of distributed solar and storage in the Consumers Plan could “defer distribution system upgrades even as the load increases due to electrification,” the technical report said.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is evaluating Xcel’s preferred resource plan through a public process. The Citizens Utility Board advocates for affordable and reliable utility service and clean energy for residential and small business consumers across Minnesota.
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